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Distributed and micro-generation from biogas and agricultural application of sewage sludge: Comparative environmental performance analysis using life cycle approaches

Sadhukhan, J (2014) Distributed and micro-generation from biogas and agricultural application of sewage sludge: Comparative environmental performance analysis using life cycle approaches Applied Energy, 122. pp. 196-206.

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The Feed-In-Tariff scheme in the UK has generated attractive economics in the investment for anaerobic digestion (AD) to convert sewage sludge into biogas and digested sludge for energy and agricultural applications, respectively. The biogas is a source of biomethane to replace natural gas in the gas grid system. Biogas can be utilised to generate combined heat and power (CHP) on-site, at household micro and distributed or community scales. These biogas CHP generation options can replace the equivalent natural gas based CHP generation options. Digested sludge can be transformed into fertiliser for agricultural application replacing inorganic N:P:K fertiliser. Biogas and digested matter yields are inter-dependent: when one increases, the other decreases. Hence, these various options need to be assessed for avoided life cycle impact potentials, to understand where greatest savings lie and in order to rank these options for informed decision making by water industries. To fill a gap in the information available to industry dealing with wastewater, the avoided emissions by various AD based technologies, in primary impact potentials that make a difference between various systems, have been provided in this paper.1m3 biogas can save 0.92m3 natural gas. An average UK household (with a demand of 2kWe) requires 180,000MJ or 5000Nm3 or 4.76t biogas per year, from 15.87t sewage sludge processed through AD. The proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEM FC) is suitable for building micro-generations; micro gas turbine (Micro GT), solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and SOFC-GT hybrid are suitable for distributed generations upto 500kWe and occasionally over 500kWe; engine and ignition engine above 1MWe. These CHP technologies can be ranked from the lowest to the highest impacts per unit energy production: PEM FC is the environmentally most benign option, followed by SOFC, SOFC-GT, Engine or Micro GT and Ignition engine (with the highest impact potential), respectively. In terms of avoided global warming, acidification and photochemical ozone creation potentials, compared to equivalent natural gas based systems, the biogas based PEM FC micro-generation and Micro GT distributed systems achieve the greatest avoided emissions with the most cost-effectiveness. Application of digested sludge as fertiliser has more toxicity impacts, however, has greater avoided emissions in acidification and photochemical ozone creation potentials on the basis of inorganic N:P:K fertiliser, compared to the biogas production for the natural gas grid system. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Centre for Environmental Strategy
Authors :
Sadhukhan, J
Date : 1 June 2014
DOI : 10.1016/j.apenergy.2014.01.051
Additional Information : NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Applied Energy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Applied Energy, 122, June 2014, DOI 10.1016/j.apenergy.2014.01.051.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 14 May 2014 12:51
Last Modified : 09 Jun 2014 13:58

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